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This Band’s Instruments Are Made From Old Electronics

Do you have a junk drawer filled with old phones and gadgets? Here’s an idea.

This Band’s Instruments Are Made From Old Electronics
[Photo: Flickr user Peter Harris]

If you’re reading this, chances are you have a graveyard of defunct gadgets at home. Phones. Old audio equipment. What are you going to do with all that junk? You could always ship it off to get recycled, but that’s boring.

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Why not make something new out of it?

Like a whole genre of music.

That’s what musician and sound artist Yuri Suzuki and his collaborators decided to do after scouring the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa and uncovering a trove of old gadgets. Using the old tape recorders, cell phones, and other electronics they found, Suzuki and a team of artists hacked together playable musical instruments and recorded their own version of the early minimalist electronic song “Warm Leatherette.”

Suzuki teamed up with fellow artists Bogosi Sekhukhuni, Nathan Gates, and Neo Mahlasela to create the instruments and produce the song and accompanying video, which can be seen below.

“I am curious about the music scenes of each country and South Africa has very interesting music scenes such as Shangaan electro,” says Suzuki. “I thought would be nice to invent a genre during this commission. So we came up the idea to make genre from scratch, specifically a genre which is made from DIY musical instruments.”

This isn’t the first time Suzuki has tinkered with conventional notions of what musical instruments are and how they work. Earlier this year, Suzuki and collaborator Mark McKeague started shipping the Ototo, a DIY synthesizer that uses sensors to turn everyday objects into touch-controlled musical instruments. The device allows people to create instruments from just about anything, whether by hooking it up to pieces of fruit or using it as a MIDI controller to achieve essentially unlimited sonic possibilities.

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This latest project similarly takes common objects and turns them into tools for creating music. It was commissioned by digital creative agency onedotzero as part of a partnership between the Department of Arts & Culture of South Africa and the British Council.

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About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things. Find me here: Twitter: @johnpaul Instagram: @feralcatcolonist

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